Evaluating essential features of proppant transport at engineering scales combining field measurements with machine learning algorithms

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Xiaoyu Wang , Lei Hou, Xueyu Geng, Peibin Gong, Honglei Liu


The characterization of the proppant transport at a field-engineering scale is still challenging due to the lack of direct subsurface measurements. Features that control the proppant transport may link the experimental and numerical observations to the practical operations at a field scale. To improve the numerical and laboratory simulations, we propose a machine-learning-based workflow to evaluate the essential features of proppant transport and their corresponding calculations. The proppant flow in fractures is estimated by applying the Gated recurrent unit (GRU) and Support-vector machine (SVM) algorithms to the measurements obtained from shale gas fracturing operations. Over 430,000 groups of fracturing data are collected and pre-processed by the proppant transport models to calculate key features, including settlement, stratified flow and inception of settled particles. The features are then fed into machine learning algorithms for pressure prediction. The root mean squared error (RMSE) is used as the criterion for ranking selected features via the control variate method. Our result shows that the stratified-flow feature (fracture-level) possesses better interpretations for the proppant transport, in which the Bi-power model helps to produce the best predictions. The settlement and inception features (particle-level) perform better in cases that the pressure fluctuates significantly, indicating that more complex fractures may have been generated. Moreover, our analyses on the remaining errors in the pressure-ascending cases suggest that (1) an introduction of the alternate-injection process, and (2) the improved calculation of proppant transport in complex fracture networks and highly-filled fractures will be beneficial to both experimental observations and field applications.




Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Hydraulic Engineering, Oil, Gas, and Energy, Sustainability


feature evaluation, machine learning, pressure variation, field scales, proppant transport


Published: 2021-12-06 03:43

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
The dataset related to national natural resource is confidential

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